How to Write When You Can’t

Hey Reader,

We’ve all known what it’s like to be busy. To have something right around every other corner to do and obstacles to jump over. It seems like it is impossible to get everything done when it comes to work or school or… let’s face it. Writing.

Writing is a lot of work. Really, it doesn’t look hard when you start out, or even when you’ve finished a first draft of a novel. It takes a lot more time and effort than one might think… but you know that. A sane person would know to back away slowly, but we’re writers. We get paid to listen to the voices in our heads.

That’s right. We’re crazy.

So we all know what being busy is like. We all get it. The question that keeps coming up is this:

When am I going to get around to writing?

Sure, we all have responsibilities to take care of, but we’re going to go crazy if we don’t make time to actually get some words to paper. I’ve written a ton about ways you can manage and maximize your writing time, so I’m not going to do that again. Today I’m going to give you a few pointers of how you can write when you aren’t actually writing.

Let’s say you are on the way to work or school or the grocery store. You’re driving or riding a bike or getting onto a metro train. There’s that short period of time where you have to pay attention to getting to where you need to go, but you have room to think. You can’t pull out your laptop or notebook and jot down ideas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be working on your story.

During these times of your day, when you are alone but can’t get anything done, you can take advantage of the time by brainstorming. Think of plot twists or how you’re going to start your next scene or even be coming up with backstories for your characters.

I find that whenever I sit down to brainstorm, I end up staring at a blank page for a half hour before I get anywhere. That’s a waste of the little time we have to work. If you do all of that thinking throughout the day, then when you get to looking at that page it will only take a few minutes to thought-dump everything. Or you won’t have to wonder how you plan to start your chapter. Or you won’t have to hit a rock wall in outlining because you will see it coming.

Another way that you can work when not working is to multitask. While you are doing other things, always keep your hands busy if they aren’t already. Maybe you are waiting for water to boil on the stove or you’re waiting to get out of class. Either way, you don’t have the time to start really writing a chapter or scene. Instead, maybe you sketch cover ideas or jot down some possible character names. Work on a six month marketing plan or editing plan. The stuff that you have to do and would rather be writing when you are doing it. Go ahead and get it over with. If not, expand. Do a little more characterizing or plot-hole filling or find other ways to increase your own knowledge of your story.

Remember that just knowing the facts about your characters and plot aren’t enough. You need to understand them and know them as well as you know yourself if you are going to be writing for them. I’m taking a psychology class right now, so I’m constantly going in and applying all of these theories and skills to my characters. You know, figuring out the reason (or at least making up the logical reason) for their issues or fears or defense mechanisms.

Oh, man. Defense mechanisms are so great in fiction. Very useful. I’ll have to write another post about that.

My challenge for you is to find a way to take advantage of your time. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly blaming my lack of progress on my busy schedule. Sure, that might actually be why my writing is slowing down, but that;s not the point. I shouldn’t let my life get in the way of my writing, and neither should you. The challenge is to take charge of your own writing and not let other resposnibilities be an excuse. Find the time to work even when you aren’t writing. It really makes it easier when you actually sit down to write.

Like this post if you liked it, and you can follow my website via email, WordPress, or any of the social media widgets on the side. If you are reading this on Goodreads, then you can follow me or add me as a friend!

Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!

Kelli Crockett.

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